Bromance vs. Girlfriends: biology or society?

Re: Chester Cheetah’s comment on “Can’t we just be friends?”

Very smart people put a lot of time into studying the questions as to whether white people were really different than black people too. Just because the academic elite like to publish new and sensational ideas doesn’t give them status as absolute scientific fact. The amount of biology at stake here is MUCH less than people like to imagine when they want to maintain the idea that “that’s just the way things are.” Women are more emotional and lovey-dovey than men, and women form different kinds of relationships. I just spent an entire semester looking at the research in this area, and you know what my conclusion was- looking to biology to explain the kind of sex differences we want to explain is just a bunch of crock.


The typical assignment of female nuturer/male strengthener is VERY socially based. Don’t even get me started on the androcentric interpretations that we’ve slapped onto other species in an effort to say that that paradigm is “natural” when a closer examination reveals a very different distribution of the roles.  That aside,in parent-child relationships the man is usually cast as the protector and provider while the woman is cast as the homemaker and nuturer. How does THAT translate to same-sex relationships? (“Hey Bro, I want to protect you, man. And make sure that you have, like, food on the table and stuff. Cool?” “Hey girlfriend! I am coming over to clean your room today! And do your dishes, and pat you on the head because you got a good grade, okay?”)

I’m not saying that men and women aren’t different at all. I’m just saying that we have expectations for the way they should behave (whether these are accurate expectations or not), and these expectations color the way we see male/female behavior; we consider as awkward or abnormal behavior that does not conform to our expectations. I think it is reasonable to believe, however, that these expectations we have are, in fact, largely based on a long social tradition and maintenance of the status quo. Call me a ball-buster, but that’s how I see it.

As far as the show itself goes- I wouldn’t be surprised to see some cattiness arising. I’ve known some really gossipy (straight) guys who talk more than girls! That being said, I don’t like watching cattiness, be it male or female, and I like “Rob and Big” as a good example of a healthy male relationship…but that has its problems too. Think, big, black sidekick…

Photo courtesy of flickr.com


1 Response to “Bromance vs. Girlfriends: biology or society?”

  1. 1 Chester Cheetah
    January 8, 2009 at 4:08 am

    I think you’re seeing what you want to see in the research. You could argue the same for me, I’m sure. Nevertheless, while there is not very much evidence pointing toward the male of any species being the warrior and the female being the nurturer, there is a distinct tendency of one or the other in the species taking on specific roles as a generality. For example, you don’t see a 50/50 distribution in stay-at-home dads/moms in the animal kingdom for a given species. The distribution tends to be closer to 80/20 or 90/10 for a given dominant sex, either male or female. Second, your parent-child relationship analogy is flawed at least in its assumption of youth. Consider the father/son relationship of two adults and compare it to male/male friendship. Do the same for women. Still don’t see the similarities?

    As for Rob and Big, try not to forget that this is reality television. I know that we don’t take reality TV very seriously (nor should we), but don’t forget that this isn’t The Real World. Rob and Big were friends before the show started and are probably still friends now. This isn’t a case of writers creating a black second fiddle to a white lead; it’s real life. Big sometimes plays the sidekick role, but I’m guessing that’s probably because it’s Rob’s house and Rob’s money, so he kind of gets to call the shots. This isn’t some antiquated reproduction of Huck Finn and Nigger Jim; it’s just two dudes hanging out. Take your speculation elsewhere.

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